Prepare for travel in avalanche terrain


Signs of what avalanche terrain looks like


The skills of effective avalanche rescue

AIARE Level 1 Avalanche Course

Steamboat Powdercats offers AIARE (The American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education) Level I avalanche courses typically in early January.

The AIARE Level 1 avalanche course is designed as an introductory “stand-alone decision-makers course” for those planning on traveling and recreating in avalanche terrain. Our instructors are AIARE trained and qualified. The 24 hours of course work focuses on the basic skills necessary to manage your risk in the winter backcountry.

For the 2020/21 season, we are offering two courses.

Click on a date below to get on the waitlist for the course of your choice:

– December 26-28, 2020 –
– Jan 1-3, 2021 –

As of September 24, 2020, these courses are full.  If you are interested please put in an inquiry as we may be opening up more courses this season and having you on a waitlist helps us contact you in the future. We do know that our courses will be pivoting to no office time with course work moving to an online platform.  Field sessions will be the same with the exception that we will not be using our snowcats to move students up into the terrain.


  • Cost is $600/student

  • Instruction

  • Course materials (student manual and AIARE field book)

  • Due to COVID-19 snowcat transportation to and from our course area may not be provided during our course.  As of September 24, 2020 we are working on ways to adjust this aspect of our course. 

  • AIARE certification

  • For more detailed information, course outline and equipment list, please give us a call at (970) 879-5188 or email Eric Deering, at Steamboat Powdercats:


  • Shovel

  • Probe

  • Beacon

  • Skis or splitboard

  • Food (except lots of coffee)

  • We do have beacon, shovel and probe to rent for an additional $20/course (Sat and Sun). We don’t have skis, splitboards or skins to rent. We would suggest using Ski Haus or Christy Sports in Steamboat Springs if you need to rent these locally.

This Level 1 course utilizes the AIARE course curriculum. At the end of the course you will be able to:

• Plan and prepare for travel in avalanche terrain
• Recognize avalanche terrain
• Describe a basic framework for making decisions in avalanche terrain
• Learn and apply effective companion rescue

It is a starting point for anyone thinking of getting into backcountry skiing and riding. It’s also great for those who have already have backcountry experience, but have yet to truly hone their snow safety and rescue skills.

This three-day avalanche awareness course will introduce the avalanche phenomena (8-hours for 3 days).

This is more than an avalanche course as it will educate you to planning and preparation for travel in avalanche terrain, human factors, terrain recognition, “red flag” observations, terrain selection, travel techniques and basic companion rescue.

The goal will be to provide you with basic hazard management skills using rule based tools in combination with introductory knowledge based decision making tools…i.e. you will learn a lot!

This is a stand alone course and provides participants an into to future avalanche instruction like the Level 2 AIARE course. 

We utilize our snowcats to get quickly into our study areas in the field, thus maximizing our time to learn from the snow. Once out there, we will be traveling to different areas to get a varied picture of avalanche terrain and snow pack. And of course, we’ll do our best to get a few turns in as well!

Buffalo Pass, located just north of the Steamboat Ski Area across Fish Creek Canyon, and is where Steamboat Powdercats has been operating our snowcat skiing tours since 1983.


This experience is for private cats only, from February 1st until the end of the season. Instead of finishing at 3:45 pm, we extend the tour to 4:45 pm and cat ski in the magic light of the Alpenglow.